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Lindy Capella wandered carefree through the World Horizons Mall. Her massive ProTechTor robot cleared a path before her. Rare plants from a hundred worlds filled garden spaces between the walkways and shops.

 

She stopped in front of a HoloAd, and her guardian stopped with her. Lindy looked into the image of her own face and smiled. The L1ndE was the most successful product launch in the history of ServUCorp.

 

Advertised as the perfect female companion, the L1ndE did everything the perfect woman could do. It cooked, cleaned, laughed at stupid jokes, and specialized in bedroom fun. It also didn't do anything inconvenient or irritating. It never complained or pouted, didn't spend money without permission, and never had a birthday to remember. It never got a "headache." Even though it was the most expensive robot for home use in history, customers had paid deposits for the entire next year's production. ServUCorp started building another factory to keep up with demand.

 

The robot also made Lindy even richer. Already a mega-star actress, singer, and performer, Lindy got paid for her image and likeness on every L1ndE that rolled off the assembly line. Each one looked like her, sounded and moved like her, and simulated her bubbly, vivacious personality.

 

She smiled as she thought about the royalty payments pouring into her bank account. When she turned away from the ad, she caught the eye of a middle-aged woman staring at her.

 

"You're really her, aren't you? Not one of those things," the woman nodded at the advertisement.

 

Lindy smiled brightly, skilled in fan relations. "I'm me, alright. Do you want an autograph?"

 

"No, I don't want your autograph. I want my husband back."

 

Lindy took a step backward. She looked at her ProTechTor and saw the tiny green light that told her it didn't detect any threats to her safety. "What are you talking about? Do I know you?"

 

The woman scoffed. "No, you don't know me. You don't know my husband. But she does." The woman pointed at L1ndE.

Lindy laughed. "That robot isn't me."

 

"But it has your face, your voice, your personality. My husband tried one out at a bachelor party. He said it wasn't cheating because it wasn't a person. But it hooked him. A few months later, he emptied our retirement account to buy one of his own and stored it in a little apartment without telling me. Can you believe he wanted to bring it home? I refused. Two months later, he left. He couldn't live without her. It."

 

A crowd of women began to form around the two. Lindy was used to being the center of attention, but something about this group felt different. The faces around her were grim and angry. She looked at the back of her bodyguard and saw that the warning light had changed from green to yellow.

 

"My son destroyed his marriage because of that thing," an older woman chimed in. "He abandoned his family."

 

"My fiancé canceled our wedding!" added a woman in her twenties.

 

Lindy got defensive. "It's not my fault you couldn't keep your husband happy. And your son is free to do what he wants." She turned to the third woman. "I'm sorry about your boyfriend. Maybe you just weren't the one."

 

That started an angry murmur in the crowd. The first woman said, "That's right. Blame us and get rich off of our misery."


A piece of garbage flew through the air. It wasn't heavy, but it startled Lindy when it hit her on the shoulder. The light on her ProTechTor's back changed from yellow to red. It moved closer to Lindy and spoke in a loud, authoritative voice. "Alert. Please disperse. Legal action will be taken against anyone who does not disperse immediately."

 

The grumble from the crowd got louder. A second piece of debris, something harder and heavier than the first, flew with much greater force at the robot's head. A spider web of cracks appeared on the robot's faceplate. It spoke again, this time to Lindy. "Please leave the area immediately. You are in danger." It tried to position itself between her and the crowd, but it had grown too large.

 

The robot's movements triggered more missiles from the crowd, some aimed at the bodyguard and some at Lindy. Women found stones in the gardens and began to hurl them at the singer. Shrieks of anger and hatred filled the air. Fear and pain paralyzed Lindy. She staggered and toppled to the ground when a large stone struck her hip. Climbing to her hands and knees, she yelled, "Somebody help me!"

 

The crowd didn't listen. More stones flew. One struck her in the mouth, and blood flowed from her lips. She screamed in terror and crawled toward her bodygaurd. A large stone, flung with tremendous force, struck her on the back of the head. She slumped to the ground. A few more rocks thudded into her body. The crowd quieted. Then, in a rush of noise and motion, they finally followed the robot's order to disperse, running in every direction. The ProTechTor bent over the fallen singer and tried to revive her with its medical kit, but the brain injury proved fatal.

 

Months later, the district attorney dropped all charges against the women involved in the singer's death. She cited various precedents for her decision, but rumors whispered the real reason was her recent divorce.

Copyright 2023 - SFS Publishing LLC

Love 2.0

Whatever happened to Love 1.0?

Nathan Krupa

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